What is fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping is the illegal deposit or disposal of waste or unwanted items onto land.
It can be:
- garden refuse
- larger domestic items, such as fridges and mattresses
It is an anti-social and criminal act leading to:
- a rise in the fear of crime
- a negative effect on other resident’s quality of life
- a change in how residents feel about their home, street, and town
Fly-tipping can have impacts on the local environment by:
- causing pollution
- being a possible danger to public health
- being hazardous to wildlife
Fly-tipping is a criminal offence under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Offenders can be given a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice for small-scale fly-tipping.
In serious cases, prosecution in Court can end in either:
- a fine of up to £50,000
- 12 months imprisonment
Where a Fixed Penalty is not paid, the case will be taken to Court where the fine is likely to be higher than the original Fixed Penalty Notice.
Fly-tipping should not be confused with littering:
- littering is small individual items
- fly-tipping is larger items, which may be mixed materials such as black sacks and furniture
Fly-tipping may be caused by an individual offender or a business. No matter who leaves the waste or what the items are, fly-tipping is illegal and is a crime.
How to report fly-tipping
If you think someone has fly-tipped waste or items, you can report it by visiting MySouthend
Will every report lead to enforcement action?
No, Council Officers or our contractor will first search for evidence of who has fly-tipped the waste or items. Where there is no evidence and you have witnessed the fly-tipping, we may ask you if you are willing to give a Witness Statement. If you cannot it may not be possible to start enforcement action.
If a Fixed Penalty Notice is issued and not paid the case will automatically go to Court where evidence must be presented. Without evidence or a Witness Statement, enforcement action is not possible.
If you witness someone fly-tipping from a vehicle and can safely take photographs of the person and vehicle (including number plate) please do so. This can sometimes be used as evidence for enforcement action.
Frequently asked questions - fly-tipping enforcement
Why has only part of the fly-tipping been cleared?
Where there is bulky waste containing Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) found in a fly-tipping incident, a separate collection by another vehicle is now required. This may lead to short delays in all the waste being cleared. Our contractor will return to clear any remaining items as quickly as possible. More information can be found on our POPs web page.
Is fly-tipping only large amounts of waste?
No, if you dump any waste or unwanted items on land then you are committing an offence.
What if waste or items are left on someone else’s land?
You are still fly-tipping unless you have the landowner’s permission and the land has an environmental permit to accept the waste.
Is it fly-tipping if I leave waste on the footpath outside my home?
It is your waste and you are responsible for it until it is collected by us.
You should always leave your recycling and waste:
- on the edge of your own land
- in a visible and accessible place on your scheduled collection day
so, it can be easily collected.
Waste should not:
- be left on the street days before your collection
- be left on land that is not your own
- include items that cannot be automatically collected by our contractor (like furniture or mattresses)
If you do, you may be prosecuted for fly-tipping.
What should I do if I move out of a rented home and have a large amount of furniture and waste to dispose of?
Large quantities of waste can be taken to either Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC). Check our website for info on HWRC opening hours and accessing the sites.
If your landlord is clearing the waste:
- it is therefore ‘commercial waste’
- the landlord must pay someone to collect and dispose of it
- if they dispose of it illegally you may become part of our investigation
Please remember you cannot leave all your unwanted items from your rented home on the footpath and hope that it will be collected. This is fly-tipping and you may be prosecuted.
What happens if my waste or unwanted items are found in fly-tipped material?
You will be contacted by us and asked to explain how your items became fly-tipped. If you are unable to give a valid reason, enforcement action will begin.
In serious cases you may be invited to attend an ‘Interview Under Caution’ as part of the investigation. Where no response is given, enforcement action will begin.
If I pay someone to dispose of my waste, am I still responsible for it?
You may be - a change to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a new “Duty of Care” responsibility onto householders.
This means that if you pass your waste on to:
- another person, or
- a business
and it is inappropriately disposed of or fly-tipped, then you may be committing an offence for failing to meet your “Duty of Care” responsibility for your waste.
What is the householder’s “Duty of Care”?
You must take ‘reasonable steps’ to make sure you only give your waste to an authorised person.
This can be checked by asking:
- if the company you want to use, is registered with the Environment Agency as a waste carrier? (i.e. do they have a waste carrier’s licence?) If they do not, they are most likely working illegally
- does the company have insurance policies to cover them moving your waste?
- will the company give you waste transfer notes? (these notes detail the transfer of waste between different parties and where the waste may end up)
- can the company give evidence of where the waste is taken? (responsible companies can confirm and give a copy of a receipt from the disposal point of the waste)
- if you give them mixed waste, how is the company going to separate hazardous materials from household waste?
Hazardous materials should not be mixed with general waste and usually needs specialist treatment and disposal.
Hazardous items include:
- computer monitors
- fluorescent lamp tubes
- furniture containing POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants)
A company has given a quote for disposing of my waste. Should I risk this by asking lots of questions?
Yes, you must protect yourself. Legitimate companies acting within the law know that you will need proof of how your waste is being disposed of. If a company offers to dispose of your waste cheaply and they refuse to give you or cannot give you information to reassure you, then it is likely they are dishonest fly-tippers.
If your waste is found fly-tipped and you have not taken ‘reasonable steps’ to check the company, you may be liable for a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice because the householder’s “Duty of Care” was not met. This is a different offence under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
What happens if I am given a Fixed Penalty Notice but do not pay it?
If you choose not to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice, your case will be passed to our legal team for prosecution in Court.